How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Woodstock Valley Connecticut
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Woodstock Valley CT and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Woodstock Valley homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Woodstock Valley CT with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Woodstock Valley CT paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Woodstock Valley CT as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Connecticut to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies in the profession are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Woodstock Valley CT.
Paralegal Online Training
Online paralegal programs have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for those in Woodstock Valley CT searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Woodstock Valley CT area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Woodstock Valley CT law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Woodstock Valley CT paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Woodstock Valley CT legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Connecticut legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within your Woodstock Valley CT local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Woodstock Valley CT. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Woodstock Valley CT, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Woodstock Valley CT?
In the mid-17th century, John Eliot, a Puritan missionary to the American Indians, established "praying towns" where Native Americans took up Christianity and were expected to renounce their religious ceremonies, traditional dress, and customs. One Praying town, called Wabaquasset (Senexet, Wabiquisset), six miles west of the Quinebaug River in present-day Woodstock, was the largest of the three northeastern Connecticut praying towns.
In 1675, when King Philip's War broke out, some of the town's Indians, (especially in the southern part of the town) sided with the Mohegans and the English while others sided with the Indians led by Philip, rallying to arms on what is now Curtis Island in present Holland, Massachusetts and Brimfield, Massachusetts. During the war, the Praying town became deserted, and the English with their Indian allies marched through Woodstock to present day Thompson in the summer of 1676 burning any crops or stored corn they could find.
In 1682, Massachusetts bought a tract of land, which included Woodstock, from the Mohegans. A group of 13 men from Roxbury, Massachusetts (home of the Pastorate of Woodstock's earlier visitor, John Eliot), settled the town in 1686 and named it New Roxbury. Judge Samuel Sewall suggested the town change its name to Woodstock in 1690, citing its proximity to Oxford, Massachusetts, and in 1749 the town became part of Connecticut. The present name is after Woodstock, in England.
A farming town in the 18th century, Woodstock began attracting industry after the War of 1812. "By 1820, there were 2 distilleries, 2 wheel wrights, an oil mill, fulling mill, carding machines, grist mills, saw mills, a goldsmith, and twine and cotton batting operations. Woodstock Valley was known for its shoe factories," according to the history page at the Woodstock town government Web site.
Choose the Best Paralegal Certificate Program near Woodstock Valley CT
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Woodstock Valley home. Paralegal education programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Woodstock Valley CT.
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